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review 2016-10-07 12:05
Soft Hair on Black Holes – Supertranslations: “Black Holes – The Reith Lectures” by Stephen Hawking
Black Holes: The Reith Lectures by Stephen Hawking (2016-05-05) - Stephen Hawking

“The Einstein Equations don’t work at a singularity”

 

 

In “Black Holes – The Reith Lectures” by Stephen Hawking

 

 

 

“In space, no one can you scream; an in a black hole, no one can see you disappear.”

 

In “Black Holes – The Reith Lectures” by Stephen Hawking

 

 

 

If you’re in the mood for physics, Hawking's paper, published 2016, states at the very end:

 

“We have reconsidered the black hole information paradox in light of recent insights into the infrared structure of quantum gravity.  An explicit description has been given of a few of the pixels in the holographic plate at the future boundary of the horizon.  Some information is accessibly stored on these pixels in the form of soft photons and gravitons.  A complete description of the holographic plate and resolution of the information paradox remains an open challenge, which we have presented new and concrete tools to address.”

 

If you're into Physics, read on.

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text 2016-06-03 19:28
Fizyka nigdy jeszcze nie była tak łatwa
Jeszcze krotsza historia czasu - Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow

Bałam się zabrać za tę książkę, bo co, gdyby okazała się za trudna? Co ja w końcu wiem o fizyce, absolwentka klasy humanistycznej… Nie wspominając o mechanice kwantowej! Efekt był taki, że gdy tylko skończyłam ją czytać, chciałam zacząć od początku. Nie dlatego, że czegoś nie zrozumiałam, ale dlatego, że napisana jest w tak fascynujący i przystępny sposób. Łatwe do zrozumienia przykłady i przenośnie, humor (te ilustracje!) oraz lekkość pióra sprawiły, że lektura okazała się wciągająca, inspirująca i rozbudzająca głód wiedzy. Zakochałam się w tej książce.

 

Ach, przy okazji nauczyłam się nie bać mądrych książek. Dzięki temu mogę nadrobić zaległości mojego humanistycznego wykształcenia…

 

Tylko nieliczni uczeni potrafią nadążać za umykającymi granicami poznania, lecz muszą specjalizować się w niewielkim obszarze i poświęcać mu cały swój czas. Reszta popularcji ma niewielkie pojęcie na temat nieustannych postępów w nauce oraz podniecenia, jakie one wywołują. Z drugiej strony – jeżeli wierzyć Eddingtonowi – siedemdziesiąt lat temu tylko dwie osoby rozumiały ogólną teorię względności. Dzisiaj rozumieją ją dziesiątki tysięcy absolwentów uniwersytetów, a miliony ludzi są przynajmniej zaznajomione z samą ideą. Jeżeli kompletna, jednolita teoria zostanie kiedykolwiek odkryta, to jedynie kwestią czasu będzie jej dopracowanie i uproszczenie w taki sposób, aby można uczyć o niej w szkole, przynajmniej w ogólnych zarysach. Wszyscy będziemy wtedy w większym czy mniejszym stopniu mogli zrozumieć prawa, które rządzą wszechświatem i są odpowiedzialne za nasze istnienie.

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text 2016-05-22 22:20
A Theory of (Reading) Everything
A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking,Carl Sagan
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory - Brian Greene

Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe" had both been on my "read this someday" list for quite some time. Both got pushed to the top of that list in the last little while for very good reasons. 

 

I read Hawking's book in preparation for seeing the film, "The Theory of Everything," early in 2015, before the Academy Awards. Greene's book pushed its way to the top of my list when he was announced as the headline presenter at our university's writers conference this spring. 

 

Here's my advice to other readers: Do try to read these books close together. I'm glad my reading of them was relatively (13-14 months) proximate. Green acknowledges a debt to the inspiration and spirit of Hawking's book and expands on his work with the science that has come in the subsequent decade or two. They're clearly writing for the same audience - the curious non-scientist. They share a wry wit and sense of humor. These two books belong together on the shelf, and the reader would do well to treat them as companion volumes.

 

Hawking declares in his book that he was told every equation he included would halve his readership - so he included none. Greene, on the other hand, includes several, in the footnotes, always introduced by the little catchphrase, "For the mathematically inclined reader." 

 

For the record, I really loved the film "The Theory of Everything." Redmayne's performance was certainly Oscar-worthy, but I actually was more taken by Felicity Jones as his first wife, Jane. Here's what I wrote on this blog at that time: http://carissagreen50.booklikes.com/post/1107435/notes-on-adaptation-the-theory-of-everything.

 

Also for the record: I had seen Greene's PBS series years ago and enjoyed it very much. His appearance at our university this spring was stellar. And there was a most interesting surprise: the chancellor of our state university system was friends with Greene during his graduate school days at Oxford. He gave a charming, humorous, entirely appropriate and enlightening introduction, then we settled in for more than an hour of Greene's wit and wisdom. A most satisfying evening all around. 

 

-cg

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review 2016-01-16 17:41
A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking
A very thought provoking read.

I'd love to say I understood everything in this book, but having never taken a physics coarse, there were some things that were difficult for me to understand. However, I think Hawking does a good job of simplifying the information and giving real-world examples that make the concepts easier to digest. His various jokes and light hearted tone also made the book entertaining.

I enjoyed this book and think it is an important resource to bring theory to laypeople in order to gain knowledge of the universe and how we as humans have come to understand it.
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review 2015-12-31 09:58
Black Holes & Time Warps
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) - Frederick Seitz,Kip S. Thorne,Stephen Hawking

by Kip S. Thorne

 

Non-Fiction

 

I'm not what you would call an intellectual and I've never studied Physics, but I found this book easily accessible and even fascinating. I decided to read it because it was cited as one of the sources for the science behind a time travel series I follow, and I wanted to try to grasp the very real science behind the fictional events in the stories.

 

The book basically tells the story of the rise of Cosmology and Particle Physics since the 1920s, explaining in layman's terms the leading theories, discoveries and the scientists who initiated the theories that we now accept as fact, proven through mathematical formulae where physical proof is still beyond our reach.

 

It effectively starts with Einstein and his alternate ideas to Newtonian Physics and works forward from there. This sounds like it could have made for dry reading, but the personalities as well as trials and political conflicts that affected the personalities involved bring the events to life on a very human level. Sometimes it's even funny, like when Professor Thorne describes an incident where he made a bet with Stephen Hawking about the existence of black holes and when sufficient proof settled the bet, Hawking, with the help of a group of students, broke into Thorne's office at Cal Tech to sign off on the bet, which was written out on a document displayed on the office wall.

 

The book as a whole gave me a sense of the global scientific community, which can be co-operative beyond national lines or competitive on a more personal level and even riddled with as much ego as the acting world at times. It explains the process for acceptance of new ideas within that community, which I had no idea of before.

 

I found the book as interesting as many spy stories, and have only given it 4 stars instead of 5 because I had hoped to learn something about time loops from it, which was not really touched on despite mention in the description. It was written in an engaging style that is rare for writers on science, though the fictionalized Prologue suggests that the author had best stick to non-fiction.

 

I enjoyed the read, and I now know a lot more about the subject matter than I did before I read it. Whether I read more on the subject is yet to be seen

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